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Bhutto's murder - Baitullah Mehsud charged

Police formally charge the Pakistani Taliban commander with planning the assassination of the former premier.

world Updated: Mar 02, 2008 02:01 IST

Police on Saturday formally charged Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud with planning the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto.

Police filed preliminary charges in a court against Mehsud, who was earlier blamed by the Pakistan government for organising the killing of Bhutto in a suicide attack after an election rally in Rawalpindi on December 27. Four others -- Qari Ismail, Ikramullah, Abdullah and Abaad ur Rehman -- were also charged by the police.

"Police submitted preliminary charges in the Bhutto case before an anti-terrorism court and the judge issued non-bailable warrants of arrest against Baitullah Mehsud and four other accused," Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, the chief of the police team investigating Bhutto's assassination, said.

A spokesman for Mehsud had earlier denied his involvement in the assassination and blamed the government for masterminding Bhutto's killing. Police said the preliminary charges were based on confessional statements made by some of the accused before a magistrate. The statement declared Mehsud as an absconder.

Two suspects in the case, Hasnain Gul and Rafaqat, were produced in the anti-terrorism court of Judge Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman under tight security. The police were granted custody of the accused for five days in connection with a suicide attack near the residence of Lt Gen Tariq Majeed, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.